Of the many ways to make money off your blog or website, there are few that can match or surpass affiliate marketing. When done right, you can focus on creating quality content and directing your users to websites and products that you like and believe in.
When done wrong, though, you begin to feel vaguely like a carnival barker selling tickets to rigged games and dodgy sideshow acts. It starts so innocently. You sign up for an affiliate program that has some products you like. Then they run out of products you like. So you start recommending products that you don’t actively dislike. Then they run out of those. Finally, you end up just linking to any old site and hoping that your viewers don’t click on anything they regret.
Ladies & Gentlemen, I Present To You….VigLink!
VigLink is a service that turns your website’s existing links and content into profitable tie-ups with affiliate marketing programs. Like Paltip, it converts your existing links into affiliate links when participating programs are available. Unlike Paltip, it also offers link insertion, where it transforms individual words in your content into affiliate links. To see a demo of the service in action, try this bookmarklet (you will have to be logged in to their service to use). To get an informative, if vaguely aggressive sounding, explanation about How It Works (there are more of their videos on their Youtube channel), check out the video below:
The Nitty Gritty
Installation: You can sign up with just an email address. Install their plugin and enter your API key in the Settings panel for VigLink. It is now working. Or at least, the affiliate link conversion is working. For the link insertion, you will need to activate it on the Features menu of the Dashboard at Viglink.com.
Getting Paid: VigLink take a 25% cut of all commissions that you receive (compare this to the 50% that PalTip takes off the top) from links that have been converted to affiliate links. For inserted links, the commission structure varies from product to product. For both inserted and converted links, they will not pay you until they have been paid by the merchant themselves. To find out if an affiliate program you are already using is covered by VigLink, check out their coverage using this widget (must be logged in to VigLink to use it).
Sign up for more
Transparency: VigLink is pretty conscientious about complying with all relevant regulatory bodies. In a number of places in their site, they make sure to explain the FTC‘s policies on disclosing your “material connection” to the seller. They are also scrupulous about complying with existing tax law and will not disburse funds until you have established your tax ID with them to their satisfaction. To see how well VigLink is actually working, you can track the merchants, links, sites, and pages that are being clicked on. If you or any of your users would just as soon not be “affiliated”, they can opt out of VigLink’s service by using the link here.
Reservations: The one genuine disappointment I had with VigLink is that link insertion is not totally mature: it can be surprisingly hard to trigger and does not cover many products. It took me a particularly labored paragraph on consumer electronics to be able to get a product link to appear at all (although a link to their own link insertion service did appear quite quickly).